The best bar books for starting a bar are the ones that give you all the information (including info on the cost to open a bar) you need in a highly readable format. Of course, it’s hard to find one book that has absolutely everything in it. That would be a book large enough to fill your bar setup. The best bar books that make up this list all have their specialties. There are options to learn about bar equipment layout, and options for learning the best cocktail drinks (with information on "What does one part mean?" and more). You may end up wanting all of them, or there may be some that really work well for you. No matter how many you choose, the best books for starting a bar are the ones that will work for your bar.
Best Bar Books
Every book on this list has its own best feature. There are some with great general info on starting a bar, some with drink recipes, like how to make a cocktail with rum, and some that will help you run your bar. The ones that make sense for you will depend on where you're at with opening a bar and what you need to work on (even if you're still at the stage of learning how to get a liquor license). That said, these are all some of the best bartending books. Even if you decide you don’t need to have all these books on hand, check them out at the library to learn more.
Best Books for Starting a Bar
The number of books available on how to start and operate a bar is staggering. When you search for the best bar books you’ll find many options. You’ll even find many lists boasting the number one, two, or three books you need to own. To be fair, a lot of these books come from those many lists. However, the best bar books for you will depend on your bar, what you already know, and what you want your employees to know. This list is a good place to start to find out which books are the best for you.
Opening & Running a Bar
- Raise The Bar by Jon Taffer. Taffer’s book is all about how to start up and successfully operate a business. While it works for bars, the advice he gives will suit any business. While this bar book is a good read as you’re getting started, it also has plenty of always-useful information.
- Straight Up by Ramona Pettygrave Shah. Shah’s book is another one with practical advice for those just starting out in business. Straight Up is for people who are at the very beginning of their business. At times the advice it offers feels a little obvious. It may be more of a good library read, but it’s worth checking out all the same.
Everything You Need
- Running A Bar For Dummies by Heather Dismore. Dismore’s contribution to the “For Dummies” series is everything you’d expect. This book gives you helpful tips and information, as well as tangible steps you can take to improve your bar. Of all the best bar books, this is, truly, one of the best.
- Restaurant Success by the Numbers, Second Edition by Roger Fields. Fields’ book focuses on all restaurants, not just bars. If you want to learn how to run a successful restaurant or bar by the numbers, this is the book for you. It might not be one you need at the bar. However, checking it out and learning the math behind the business is a good idea.
- How To Open A Bar by Simon Pasco. Pasco’s book is one of the best bar books in terms of accessible knowledge without any fluff. Of course, with such a straightforward name, you’d expect to learn just how to open a bar. That’s exactly what you get. Of all the books for starting a bar, Pasco’s is a great one to always have on hand. You never have to wade through information that you don’t need, and the advice will always point you in the right direction.
Getting Into The Specifics
- Trendy Bar & Nightclub Business Startup: How to Start, Run and Grow a Successful Bar & Tavern Business by Michael Sanders. Sanders’ book is more for anyone looking into a bar or nightclub business. However, that doesn’t make it any less important if you’re just looking into a small bar. This book will walk you through literally everything you could need to know about starting your own bar. As far as bar books go, this one is a great first resource that you can come back to time and again.
- The 21 Laws of Owning and Running a Bar by Dave Allred. Allred’s book is a must for anyone opening a bar, and anyone working at a bar. While a lot of the advice is for owners, the overall information is important for everyone involved in the bar. There’s so much that goes into running a bar, and having a book like this to guide your whole team is vital.
- The Little Black Bar Book: A Comprehensive Guide To Starting, Owning And Operating Your Own Bar Or Nightclub by Chris Lenahan. Lenahan’s take on the little black book is often noted as being a little outdated compared to other books on this list. While it’s more of a choice that you’ll want to borrow from the library, it’s certainly worth a read. It provides a lot of the information you can get in other books, but the different perspective will be helpful.
Beyond Opening Day
- The Bar Manager’s Guide To Controlling Costs: How To Eliminate Theft And Waste by Thomas Morrell. Morrell’s book is different from anything else on this list. Learning how to open and operate your bar is extremely important. But, learning how to control costs and inventory is the backbone of a successful bar business. You’ll definitely want to purchase this book, read it thoroughly, and keep it around as a reference throughout your bar ownership experience.
Cocktail Recipe Book Options
Of all the great cocktail recipe and bar recipe books, there are two that you should really check out:
- The Essential Bar Book: An A-To-Z Guide to Spirits, Cocktails, and Wine, with 115 Recipes for the World's Great Drinks by Jennifer Fiedler.
Whether you’re looking for the best cocktail book for beginners or of all time, these two books are the place to start. Of all the best bartending books, these two will get you set up with lots of info.
The Best Cocktail Books
Fiedler's book is truly essential. This book is full of the history of everything that goes into making drinks. With all the information on different types of alcohol and the basics of how to mix drinks, this book is the place to start. That said, as you get more advanced, you’ll move beyond this book. However, it’s a great one to read and have on hand as you bring on new bartenders.
Morgenthaler's book is a comprehensive guide for bartenders and mixologists. It gives you all the information you need to make some killer drinks. On top of drink recipes, this book also includes advice on everything that comes with making drinks. From carbonating to choosing the correct type of ice, it has it all. If you need a cocktail book for beginners that will always be helpful, you need The Bar Book on your shelf.
The Best Bar Books: In Conclusion
Overall, the best books for starting a bar (or eco friendly restaurants in some cases) are the ones that give you the information that is right for you. From the best cocktail books of all time to the best bar books for anyone, this list gives a lot of options. While every book on this list is worth reading, only you will know which ones are the best bar books for you. As you read them, you'll even come up with your own book, your bar operations manual.